The state's fledgling Recreation Passport program has started to pay dividends in the central Upper Peninsula.
The program - which we've previously touted as an innovative and equitable way of ensuring future funding for the state's park system - also funds a grant program. This year, it's making grants to Marquette County, Tilden Township and the city of Munising.
The grant program is possible because of revenue from the sale of Recreation Passports, the state's new system which replaced motor vehicle permit stickers for entry into state parks.
By marking a checkbox on their license plate renewal form, opting into the $10 Recreation Passport, motorists get access to state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized state trailhead parking and state boat launches. Next year, the price of the Recreation Passport will go up to $11 for Michigan residents but we still think it's a bargain for park visitors.
All the funding generated from the Park Passport is funneled back into state parks and state forest recreation programs - so it's not open to "bait and switch" tactics that could siphon the cash off to other parts of the state budget.
Then there's the bonus, those recreation grants, which this year included:
Department of Natural Resources officials cited the grant awardees as clear examples of projects which provide better public outdoor recreation opportunities or facilities, infrastructure and economic development plans that support public outdoor recreation.
The Superiorland projects were among 19 recipients of grants totaling more than $700,000. The grants are helping to create a broad range of public recreation projects, including playground development and renovations, picnic areas and pavilions, replacement of bathroom facilities and improved access for those with disabilities.
We echo the DNR's conclusions: the Recreation Passport is an easy, affordable way for residents to support outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan. And, we'd add, it's a good way to fund innovative recreation projects around the state.
With 17 state parks and five scenic sites in the U.P., the whole region has a deep interest in the future of Michigan's park system. We think the Recreation Passport will ensure that future for many years to come.
For more information on the Recreation Passport go to www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport Passports are available at any state park or recreation area or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore